How does one capture a life-changing month of travel such as I just experienced? Hell if I know but I’ll give it a try. Let me preface this by saying that I am a recovering codependent – with a rather long history of being afraid of doing things on my own. A month of exploration, yoga and contemplation in Bali was something that had been on my bucket list ever since I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago. I still can’t believe that I did it. Although I’m still suffering from a touch of jet lag so can’t be held responsible for most of anything else I say – I am confident saying that my trip was the most amazing – and at times terrifying – time of my life. I wasn’t scared for my safety – just full of fear because I was pushing myself way the freak out of my comfort zone.
I’m so glad that I listened to the voice inside of me that was screaming for an adventure. Just a few weeks before heading to Mexico to facilitate our annual She Recovers winter yoga retreat, I very spontaneously booked a trip to Bali for after the retreat was done. Part of me felt that planning such a trip was beyond impulsive – it bordered on being financially irresponsible. I’m a yoga teacher, retreat facilitator and Mala artist – money is most often tight. But if I’ve learned one thing in my recovery (I hope I’ve learned a few things) it is that sometimes I need to trust my intuition first, and figure out the logistics second. As it so happened, I had just finished filling a custom order of our She Recovers Malas for a client. I could afford the trip – but I would come home close to broke. Intuition won. I booked the trip.
I knew very little about Bali other than what Elizabeth Gilbert had shared with us all and that it was a yoga hub. As a yoga teacher who teaches at least four days a week – I craved time on the mat as a student, taking rather than leading classes. Well, let me tell you, Bali certainly is a yoga hub – but it’s so much more. It’s magical. Bali brought me closer to my higher power than I had ever been, the spiritual vibe is so high in that country that you have no choice but to leave the island transformed from when you arrived. The green, lush landscape is breathtaking. Rice fields and beaches galore. Evidence underscoring the importance of faith, ritual, ceremony and devotion are everywhere. I couldn’t help but tap into my own spiritual center in such surroundings.
I have never felt so relaxed, content and connected to myself, others and nature as I felt on my trip. But those feelings were interspersed with some really uncomfortable moments. In Bali, I had the time, space and opportunity to really look inside, recognize and face the very fears that (I believe) have held me back from truly realizing my potential this past while. I joke that it’s the curse of yogis and/or people in recovery that we are always seeking, always looking within, always looking to be the best version of ourselves. It’s tough work, isn’t it? Why can’t we be content with the shittier, unhappier version of ourselves? Why can’t we just stay in the “fear of anything more” comfort zone?
The major thing I still need to work on in my life and recovery is my fear. That truth hit me like a ton of bricks early on my trip. When in the actual fuck did I become so afraid? Afraid of and fearful of everything. I’ve read the books, listened to the speakers, completed the workbooks, meditated and yoga’d the hell out of my fear, but in Bali I realized the uncomfortable truth that fear was still running my life.
At first I became aware of the small “f” fears that I had packed into my (too large as it turned out) suitcase:
- fear of not being able to get around in a new country because I don’t speak Balinese and I have no sense of direction (did okay)
- fear that not understanding the currency would have me give all my money away on the first day
- fear of riding on the back of or driving a scooter (had a few mishaps but nothing serious)
- fear of riding a horse (I lasted 30 minutes of the 60 minute horse ride because the horse reared and decided to lay on the beach while I was on him…no prob I just said eff this and relaxed on the beach instead)
- fear of snorkeling (actually saw turtles!)
- fear of getting sick from eating the local food (no belly problems at all)
The above fears might be silly to some, but most of my travel has been to our own extremely well-organized She Recovrs yoga and recovery retreats, or to yoga teacher trainings. I was proud to face and overcome the set of small “f” fears, some with ease and others less gracefully). And confronting and overcoming the smaller fears left me more open and inspired to look at and contemplate the big “F” (literally Fucking huge) fears in my life. For example:
- Fear of not feeling, of my heart staying closed
- Fear of feeling too much, of my heart opening
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Fear of my tendency to self-sabotage
- Fear that I can never, ever recover from my tendency to procrastinate
Here’s what I am learning about facing my fears: All of I have to do is try to face them – one thing, one second, one day at a time. I don’t ever regret trying. Being stuck is scarier. I’ve also learned that I don’t need to do any of this shit alone. I need to surround myself with supportive people, but also with people who gently push and challenge me. If it wasn’t for a friend I was travelling with, I would have stayed in my comfort zone in Bali, which would have kept me from ever leaving my hotel rooms.
I learned so much on my trip. Every single time I released my grip, took a deep breath and moved forward – beautiful things beyond my imagination unfolded. After Bali, I am truly inspired to face my larger fears, to recover from my self-sabotaging fears?
Here are my ideas/plans/intentions:
- Pay more attention to my personal yoga and meditation practice, of course.
- I am going to make more time for the beauties in my life who are my main cheerleaders. These are the people who say to me “I believe in you, Taryn – you’ll be okay – and if you are not, I’ll be here for you.”
- I’m going to dance more!
- I’m going to let go of control, let go of the thoughts of “who do I think I am?” or my latest, “this is toooooo good to be true!” and continue to surrender and trust.
- I’m going to do more things that scare me. They say do one thing a day that scares you, right?
I don’t know that we all need a one-month sabbatical to face our fears and grow, but I feel pretty darned fortunate that I took one. What we do need is to take the time – even a few minutes – to just get still. We need to look into our truest self and discover the fears that are running our life. We can look at our little “f” and/or our big “f” fears. We don’t have to do anything major or dangerous (no need to jump out of a plane tomorrow – unless you want to). We can join that dance class, go on that date, dump that asshole, go to a meeting, whatever it is – Just. Do. It. Take this advice from the Queen of Fear and Procrastination (as in, me) – it will be worth it.